Pride and Prejudice:
Canada's International Legacy

Canada's Greatest Victories:
a source of national identity and pride..
and some not so great moments

defining moments in canada

Canada's involvement in wars dates back hundreds of years.  In the 20th century however Canada produced a distinguished military force that played a vital and crucial role in the First and Second World War and changed the way Canada was perceived. It was through the important battlefield victories at Vimy Ridge, the Dieppe Raid and D-Day that Canadian soldiers earned a reputation as an impressive and effective force that were capable of defense and success. Vimy Ridge, the Dieppe Raid and D-Day are defining moments that have influenced and shaped Canada as a nation and changed Canada significantly.

the battle of vimy ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, on April 9, 1917, is an important defining moment in the 20th Century, which changed Canada. Germany captured Vimy Ridge early in WWI and changed it into a strong defensive position. When the Canadian Corps were ordered to seize the heavily fortified ridge they had to attack over open ground where they were targets for artillery, machine gun and rifle fire. To capture this difficult position, the Canadians carefully planned and rehearsed their attack. As the Canadian Commander of the 1st Division, Major-General Arthur Currie, said, "Take time to train them."[1] The assault on Vimy Ridge was the first occasion on which all four divisions of the Canadian Corps worked together as one formation. The Canadian achievement in capturing Vimy Ridge owed its success to a range of technical and tactical innovations, very powerful artillery preparation, sound and detailed planning and thorough preparation.[2] Canadians had demonstrated they were an outstanding and effective military formation. Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge is a key turning point in shaping Canada as a nation. Many say that Canada came of age as a country on those hard April days in 1917.[3]

[1] (Preparing for the Attack on Vimy 2014)

[2] (The Battle of Vimy Ridge - Fast Facts 2014)

[3] (The Battle of Vimy Ridge 2014)

the dieppe raid

The Dieppe Raid, on August 19, 1942, is another significant defining moment in the 20th Century, which changed Canada. Canadians made up the great majority of the attackers in the raid. It was one of the most devastating and bloody attacks in Canadian military history. Canadian soldiers went ashore at five different points along an extensive stretch of heavily defended coastline and were the force for the frontal attack on Dieppe. Four attacks took place just before dawn at points east and west of Dieppe, while the main attack on Dieppe took place shortly after. The raiding force was made up of almost 5,000 Canadians. The sacrifices and achievements of the many Canadians who suffered casualties during the Dieppe Raid served a valuable lesson. They were not entirely meaningless. The raid was necessary for the success of the invasion of the continent two years later on D-Day. The lessons learned at Dieppe were instrumental in saving countless lives on June 6, 1944.[1]

[1] (D-Day and the Battle of Normandy 2014)

d-day

D-Day, on June 6, 1944, is a central defining moment in the 20th Century, which changed Canada. On this day a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel to engage in Operation Overlord, which occupied a lengthy stretch of the heavily defended coast of Normandy. Canada was part of the five landing zones known as Juno Beach. Destroyers and supporting craft of the Royal Canadian Navy did their part and shelled German targets while many Royal Canadian Air Force planes were among the 4,000 Allied bombers which attacked the German beach defences and inland targets.[1] More than 450 Canadians parachuted inland before dawn on D-Day and engaged the enemy. Shortly after, 14,000 Canadian troops came on shore at Juno Beach in the face of enemy fire. Against difficult odds, the Canadians advanced against the best troops the enemy had. Three hundred and forty Canadians were killed on Juno Beach on D-Day alone. D-Day resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control.

[1] (D-Day and the Battle of Normandy 2014)

not so great moments

Canada's greatest victories are a source of national identity and pride.  But there are some not so great moments in Canadian history that I believe can make us ashamed to be Canadian.  One being the Canadian government putting Japanese Canadians into internment camps during WWII.  Conditions in the camps were crowded and many men and women died from disease. All this because the Canadian government claimed Japanese Canadians might help Japan to attack Canada or spy for the Japanese.  Their actions were unfounded and uncalled for.  It has been reported that there was not a single case of sabotage or spying attributed to the Japanese Canadians.  In fact, the RCMP suggested that it was unlikely that any of those interned posed a threat to Canada.  Almost two thirds of those locked up had been born in Canada and had little or no connection to Japan.  

Another not so great moment in Canadian history was when Prime Minister Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act on October 16, 1970.  He did something no other Canadian politician had done in the twentieth century. Trudeau suspended civil rights without Canada being at war. The War Measures Act allowed the police to arrest anyone without charge or even explanation.  Some felt like they were living in a police state.  Police conducted 1600 raids, mostly in Quebec, and arrested 400 people.  Most of those arrested were labour leaders, writers, activists, and entertainers, who advocated an independent Quebec and were not FLQ members or terrorists.  Many of those arrested filed complaints about their treatment and arrest, and 100 of them eventually received compensation from the federal government.  At the time that the War Measures Act was invoked most Canadians, even in Quebec, supported the use of the War Measures Act, but it has been debated ever since whether or not Trudeau overreacted.  

a source of national identity and pride

Canadians contributed to both WWI and WWII in various and effective ways. It was through the important battlefield victories at Vimy Ridge, the Dieppe Raid and D-Day that Canada built an identity for itself and gained much needed respect and independence from other influential countries. Victory however came at a terrible cost as there were many Canadian casualties during WWI and WWII. The brave Canadian soldiers who served in these battles did so for our peace and freedom.  Canada's greatest victories at Vimy Ridge, the Dieppe Raid and D-Day are a source of national identity and pride.

Bibliography

1970: Pierre Trudeau says 'Just watch me' during October Crisis . 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/civil-unrest/the-october-crisis-civil-liberties-suspended/just-watch-me.html (accessed 07 2014).

D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. 05 14, 2014. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/historical-sheets/d-day (accessed 07 26, 2014).

Japanese Internment British Columbia wages war against Japanese Canadians. 2001. http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP14CH3PA3LE.html (accessed 07 26, 2014).

Preparing for the Attack on Vimy. 03 24, 2014. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/road-to-vimy-ridge/vimy4 (accessed 07 26, 2014).

The Battle of Vimy Ridge - Fast Facts. 03 24, 2014. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/overseas/first-world-war/france/vimy/battle (accessed 07 26, 2014).

The Battle of Vimy Ridge. 07 22, 2014. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/fact_sheets/vimy (accessed 07 26, 2014).

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